The New Year has arrived, but it didn’t arrive fresh and new with a clean slate like promised. For me the lingering pain of child loss resides in my heart and has taken permanent residence. I guess I wasn’t expecting the pain to go away; but I was hoping it would somehow feel lighter this year. It doesn’t.
Nobody can really explain what the pain of losing a child is like. It’s a pain that only those experiencing can understand. Undeniably, it’s the worst pain anyone will ever go through!
Naively, I thought the pain of losing my son would feel a lot better in year two. Was I in for a heart-wrenching surprise! That second year knocked me to my knees and left me feeling so empty that I didn’t even know if I was truly alive on most days.
I marked the date on my calendar months ago. I’m feeling the pressing ache in my heart more and more with each passing day. Mother’s Day used to be such a day of celebration, but not any more.
This is the second Mother’s Day without my son, and the pain has grown increasingly worse with each passing day. I keep telling myself that this is just another day, but that’s a lie. This is Mother’s Day, a day is is supposed to be celebrated. Instead, I’m facing it with a brokenness that is unable to be fixed!
My son died. He died suddenly, without warning. On that warm day in May, the lives of so many people changed when my son’s life on this earth ended. He was the strong one in the family. He was the oldest brother and the one that the others looked up to always. He’s gone and our hearts are broken and life will never be the same again!
It is now going on two years since Mike died. Life has gone on for most everyone except his immediate family. For us, the pain is real. The pain is cruel. The longing for Mike overshadows every day in a million different ways. Our lives changed permanently when Mike died, and yet………..
It’s tormenting to lose a child. I put myself through an emotional wringer every day. It’s almost like I’m keeping score. There is the good mother column and the bad mother column, and the bad mother column always has the higher points. I know it’s crazy. I know I’m punishing myself, but I still do it. I remind myself over and over again of all of the missed opportunities I had to be a good mother and it’s breaking my heart.
We’ve all heard the expression that a person turned gray overnight. Well, I didn’t turn gray overnight when my son died, but I turned into a different person — a person I don’t always like. Yes, my physical appearance has changed. When I look into the mirror the twinkle in my eyes isn’t there. My hair doesn’t shine any more. My skin has a strange color — dull, and has lost elasticity. In a word, I aged overnight. That’s what a broken heart will do!
Nobody ever plans on child loss becoming part of their life, yet the sad fact is that every day children die and parents are left grieving the loss of their child. This journey of grief is not an easy one. In fact, this is the most difficult path a parent will ever walk. The journey is long, lasting a lifetime. There’s no way to get off of this road. It is now the road that must be traveled every day for as long as a parent of child loss remains alive.
My life has been turned upside down and inside out by child loss and like so many others I was naïve enough to think it wouldn’t happen. Yet, it did. My son was snatched away without warning and now there are only memories to fill the huge hole that has been left in the center of my heart and soul.
Tonight was one of those nights. I went to Monday night yoga as usual, not really feeling any different than I had all day. It was Monday, and time to get back into my work routine. I ran into class a few minutes late, placed my yoga mat down on the floor and began to do the relaxation breathing. I closed my eyes and began visualizing a beautiful beach scene when suddenly out of nowhere………I could feel myself beginning to shake from the inside and then it happened.
Hot tears began streaming down my face.
Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. I’m cleaning files at my office, and tossing out files from fifteen years ago. It was getting late, and I was grabbing one more pile of papers to toss into the garbage, when I stopped — frozen. I looked. I stared. As I began to read the words my tears began. Tears poured from my eyes. I began to choke on my sobs.
There it was. My son’s obituary from a year ago.
If you’ve lost a child, there has come a moment when you’ve cried out in despair, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this thing called child loss. I want my child back. I want life to go back to how it was when everything seemed okay.”
In chapter 4 of the book Child Loss – The Heartbreak and the Hope this feeling of despair is discussed in great detail. This is when the numb part of our loss begins to wear off and we begin feeling the raw pain of brokenness. This is when we want to scream out saying, “This can’t be true! This didn’t happen to my child. This is all a very bad dream!”